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Paris, a Pleasure to Walk

I could walk forever in this city!  I’m in France because my daughter, Jasmine, has always wanted to see Paris.  So I’m lucky enough to have Jasmine and her husband Kyle with me.  Luckily, Kyle has been here before and he’s adept at navigating the subway system.  It’s very relaxing for me and stressful for him.  But it’s so beautiful everywhere I turn–lovely apartment buildings with wrought iron railings that are still sporting flowers even though it’s October.  The River Seine pops into view when I’m not expecting it (since I’m not navigating) and opens up a vista of bridges in the distance.  And beautiful architecture that seem to adorn buildings of little consequence.

Sacre-Coeur

Yesterday we strolled the Montmartre area and scaled the steps to Sacre-Coeur for an unbelievable view of the city.  There was a  wine festival going on, which heightened our sense of anticipation because we were in the midst of a throng of people.  The food was off the charts–skewered snails, fried potatoes that are doused with cheese fondue, and of course crepes smeared with an abundance of Nutella!  We closed the day by walking to the Eiffel Tower, which is stunning at night. It was a perfect introduction to the city.

Today we visited the great cathedrals of Paris.  Our apartment is close to Notre Dame and it’s as grand as I expected it to be.  What interested me is how different it looks depending on the approach–from the river it looks very different than the front of the cathedral, which is most imposing.  We were lucky enough to visit during a mass, and the choir was a lovely backdrop as we enjoyed the splendor of the enormous chapel.

I wondered how any sight could follow Notre Dame, but a friend mentioned Sainte-Chapelle was her favorite cathedral. We entered a narrow, circular staircase and ascended until I was dizzy.  Then, suddenly, the ceiling rose and we entered a magnificent chapel that literally takes your breath away.  Every inch is stained glass, with gilded columns on the side.  Each stained glass panel chronicles events from the Old and New Testaments, so there are literally hundreds of scriptural scenes to view.  It was a beauty to behold.

Finally, we visited the Grand Mosque of Paris.  It’s often overlooked, but is an unexpected gem decorated with mosaics, wood carvings, and wrought iron. The Moorish garden is a peaceful enclave in the city.  The mosque served as a refuge for Algerian and European Jews during World War II.

Of course, we worked in a fabulous lunch at Le Flore en I’lle, which overlooks the Seine and Notre Dame.  Jasmine and I had satisfying French onion soup and Kyle tried beef tartare!  Later in the day Jasmine realized her dream of visiting Laduree and bought a box of macarons. Kyle opted for not one but two desserts, and I had a “chocolate pistache” which is chocolate AND pistachio wrapped in layers of croissant pastry. A good day, all around.

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